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Affymetrix, Life Tech Resolve eBioscience-Related Infringement Suits

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This story has been updated from an earlier version to include comments from Affymetrix.

Life Technologies and Affymetrix have ended two patent infringement suits connected with Affy subsidiary eBioscience, according to court documents.

US District Court Judge Irma Gonzalez of the US District Court for the Southern District of California granted Life Tech and eBio's motions to dismiss the cases with prejudice on Jan. 15. The orders came days after the two companies were scheduled to hold an early neutral evaluation conference to discuss ways to resolve the suits.

Life Tech, its subsidiary Molecular Probes, and the University of California sued eBioscience in October 2010 and again in August 2012, both times claiming that eBio's products violated multiple patents held by the University of California and licensed to Life Tech.

Specifically, in the 2010 suit, the three parties claimed that eBio's eFluor brand of labeling and detection reagents, which are used in flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry experiments, infringed US Patent Nos. 6,423,551; 6,699,723; and 6,927,069.

Each of those patents is titled "Semiconductor nanocrystal probes for biological applications and process for making and using such probes," and describes semiconductor nanocrystal compounds and probes, in which the compounds can link to one or more affinity molecules, according to the patents' abstracts.

The plaintiffs sued eBio again last year, alleging infringement of three other patents, US Patent Nos. 6,423,551; 6,699,723; and 6,927,069. Those patents, each titled "Organo luminescent semiconductor nanocrystal probes for biological applications and process for making and using such probes," relate to semiconductor nanocrystal compounds that can be linked to an affinity molecule.

The US Patent and Trademark Office awarded this latter trio of patents to the University of California in December 2011, which later licensed them to Life Tech and Molecular Probes.

Like eBio, Molecular Probes sells nanocrystals, a class of fluorophores made of semiconductor quantum dots. Molecular Probes' products are branded as qDot.

In the 2010 and 2012 suits, Life Tech sought to stop eBio from selling its eFluor nanocrystals, compensation related to those sales, and coverage of its attorney's costs, as well as any other damages the court deemed proper.

Affy entered into the cases as a party with financial interest following its acquisition of eBio last summer (BAN 6/26/2012). The array vendor also faced a suit after it announced its plans to acquire eBio, when holders of eBio convertible notes argued that the deal constituted a fundamental change under the indenture that governs the notes (BAN 1/31/2012). Affy settled the case in January 2012.

It is unclear why Life Tech and eBio ended the cases or what the terms of that resolution were. An Affymetrix spokesperson confirmed this week that the suits were settled out of court, but did not elaborate.

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